Episode 18 ·

Trial Alert: Ben’s Recent $5.5 Million Verdict with Meryl Poulin

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Ben and attorney Meryl Poulin of Gideon Asen talk with Rahul about a verdict obtained on September 30, 2022, in which a jury in Androscoggin County, Maine, returned a verdict of $5.5 million on a claim brought by the daughter of a decedent against a funeral services business for mishandling of her father’s remains after death. This is the largest jury verdict in Maine this year, and for the past several years.

At trial, the evidence showed that the funeral service was picking up decedents for cremation, but not processing the bodies for cremation, but rather allowing them to decompose in the basement of the funeral home. Plaintiff alleged negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims. The damages claim was limited to Plaintiff’s emotional distress in learning about the mishandling of her father’s remains. There were no physical injuries, medical expenses, or lost earnings claimed.

The pretrial offer was $7,500.

Some of the issues discussed on the podcast

  1. How to overcome defense attempt to benefit from a stipulation to liability.
  2. How to turn Defendant’s “acceptance of responsibility” argument against them at trial.
  3. How to maximize recovery of emotional distress damages when there is minimal (or no) physical injury.
  4. How to dismantle the “death by 1000 cuts” defense.
  5. How to use voir dire to find jurors willing to assign real value to emotional distress damages.
  6. How to captivate the jury with a powerful opening.
  7. How to frame a powerful closing and rebutting close, even in a conceded liability case.

About
Meryl Poulin

Photo of Meryl Poulin

Meryl is a Maine native and attended Colby College and the University of Maine School of Law.

Meryl is an extraordinary athlete. At Colby, Meryl played varsity hockey, field hockey, and softball and was captain of the hockey and field hockey teams. Meryl was able to achieve incredible athletic success despite being sidelined for many months with two major knee injuries and reconstructive surgeries. Her experience dealing with chronic knee injuries gave her insight into the difficulties of living with pain and the effect of debilitating injuries on every part of a person’s physical and emotional well-being.

At Maine Law school, Meryl distinguished herself as an appellate advocate, winning the honor of “Prize Arguer” in her class and the Gignoux Award for Appellate Advocacy. Meryl was a part of two moot court teams that competed on a national level. In her third year, she and her moot court partner finished in the top three of a competition of more than forty.

After law school, Meryl worked at a large law firm in Portland defending medical malpractice and personal injury cases. This work gave her a keen understanding of how insurance companies operate. “There is no shortcut to getting your client fairly compensated by an insurance company,” says Meryl. “You have to put your head down and do the work. Insurance companies respond only to intelligent, persistent, and dogged advocacy.”

More recently, Meryl worked at Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Maine’s largest legal aid organization. At Pine Tree, Meryl represented low-income Mainers in housing and eviction cases and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in protection order and family law cases. At Pine Tree Legal, Meryl tried nearly twenty cases to verdict and prevailed in all but one case.

“I met Meryl when she was representing hospitals,” said Taylor Asen. “She was fearless, and I could see right away that she was going to be one of the best trial lawyers of her generation.”

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